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Does Alcohol Affect Women Differently Than Men?

The gender gap is rapidly closing between men and women in many different ways. One of the areas where women are catching up to men is an area of concern: alcohol consumption. Women are drinking as much, if not on occasion, more than men and that poses a serious problem for women. Simply put: women do not metabolize alcohol the same way men do. As the rate of female alcohol consumption rises, so does the rate of female alcoholism and the many health risks associated with alcoholism for women. Breast cancer, liver cancer, fetal alcohol syndrome, and heart complications can all stem from alcohol abuse in women.

The difference between the way alcohol affects men and women is a matter of biology, however, it is not as simple as saying “men are biologically superior”, because in some instances, that isn’t true. Men do have more body water than women do because men tend to have more body mass than women do. Alcohol is a water-soluble substance. Meaning, that the more water in the body, the easier broken down the substance is. Women have will have a higher blood alcohol content with less alcohol because they do not have the body water necessary to metabolize the alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as five drinks in a two hour sitting for men or four drinks in a two hour sitting for women for this reason.

Alcohol is metabolized by an enzyme in the stomach called alcohol dehydrogenase. Women tend to have less active ADH enzymes in the stomach as men. When a woman consumes a large amount of alcohol, she will not process the alcohol as efficiently as a man will before the alcohol hits the bloodstream. In combination with water-solubility, this means that women will get more intoxicated than men will more quickly, because the alcohol is not processing, or metabolizing, the same way.

Part of the reason women are lacking in ADH and men are not is estrogen. The female sex hormone is, quite clearly, more prominent in females than it is in males. Men have estrogen, just as women have testosterone, but in low levels. Estrogen inhibits the production of ADH as long as estrogen is being produced in high quantities, which is typically until a woman reaches and goes through menopause.

Alcoholism can strike at any age. Villa Tranquil, a unique transitional living opportunity, welcomes women between the ages of 18-65. Independently owned and operated by clinicians, our distinct program provides women with the clinical care, compassion, and structure needed for ongoing recovery. Empowering women to live their best lives, our beautiful home in Jupiter Farms, Florida is the perfect environment for post-treatment living. Call us today for information:  214-799-3080